Monday, December 15, 2014

Nerdicus Genesis Review #47: Cannon Fodder

Title : Cannon Fodder

Publisher : Virgin Interactive

Developer : Sensible Software

Genre : Action / Strategy / Shoot 'em Up

Players :  1 Player

Release Date : 1993

Estimated Value (as of today's date) : $20-$30

Sensibile Software is a name that a lot of us US gamers aren't that familiar with, after all they were primarily a UK based developer. In fact, most of us won't know of them until they were bought over by Codemasters. The thing is, gaming in Europe wasn't as big as it was in the US and Japan, so having a developer with limited console access in Europe came off as a bit far-fetched. A lot of it had to do with the fact that developers from Europe focused more on their old fashioned systems such as Amiga. WHO REMEMBERS AMIGA!? I still have to get my hands on one. But the Amiga also gave birth to a few incredible games that we were lucky enough to get on other systems. And while you may not have heard of Sensible Software, they pumped out some of the most epic games of all time, including this little gem that I'm going to review today.

I haven't done a mega drive game yet, at least I don't think so, and since I have been going in a somewhat alphabetical order with all these systems, it was hard for me to pass up one of the most entertaining games of all time. Surprisingly enough, I don't even think that many people know what this game is even though it was ported to quite a few systems. The only opportunity I had to play it however was on the good 'ol mega drive.

It's also one of the oddest combinations of game play that I had seen during that time. It's a mish-mosh of shooter, action, and strategy elements all blended seamlessly together to form one epic masterpiece. And I'm not joking when I say this, but this game is bloody brilliant.
The great thing about Cannon Fodder, is that in an age where we're used to seeing games trying to take a semi-realistic approach to the art of warfare, Cannon Fodder does the exact opposite. It's all about taking jabs at it. With cutsey little sprites blowing each other up, it's hard not to have a good time. Especially when the gameplay is near perfect, especially when the game was supposed to be mastered for a more "pc-styled" system. The fact that they managed to pull it off quite effectively for a Sega system was more than a pleasant surprise.

No, that image isn't a joke. That's the actual title screen to Cannon Fodder. You can already tell that this game is all about the sarcasm.

Here's the deal - there isn't even a story in this game. You don't know what war you're fighting. You don't know why you're fighting. Hell, you just follow orders and complete them. It truly is a mockery of war and violence in general, which is one of the reasons there was a bit of controversy behind this game. People didn't like the way this game mocked the military and it's "blindness", but they weren't trying to be insulting. Sensible was just trying to make SENSE of war and its purpose. It's strange finding a game like this, having an underlying theme, but it does. And I don't want to get into a whole debate about war, as this is a blog about video games, so let's just keep war to the video game perspective, alright?

As stated previously, the game is combining a lot of different styled elements but for the most part it's taking a top down perspective in which you control a group of soldiers, RTS style, maneuver them around the map by use of a targeting display and pointing / clicking (which is somewhat easier to be controlled with a mouse, but they did a decent job with a genesis controller), and having them blast away your enemies.

You'll have the luxury of experiencing this game through 24 fast-paced missions through various environments. You've got desserts, forests, winter wonderlands, jungles, and urban settings to contend with, each bringing their own atmosphere. Who doesn't love the sound of yelping sea-lions as you run over them with a tank!?

For the most part, your forces can just take out enemies by shooting them with their already equipped guns, but you'll also be able to jump into tanks, and use other weapons such as grenades and rockets to take out your foes or the enemies barricades. The game does a superb job of incorporating environmental hazards and covers such as trees, rocks, rivers, etc. that you or your enemy can use to their advantage. Your soldiers aren't overpowered though either, so don't expect to just waltz on into an enemy camp and expect to survive. You'll die just as easily as they do, so you'll have to come up with strategies to successfully complete missions.

There are a lot of times where you'll have to split up your forces in order to distract or take out enemies more effectively, and this is where the RTS elements really come in. Take command & conquer, or warcraft, and combine it with a game like lost vikings and lemmings, and you've got Cannon Fodder. Odd comparison, right? But seriously, it works.

Heck, I even grew attached to my little guys....they even have names...

Visually, this game is downright breathtaking. I'm serious. Maybe it's just me and my obsession with top-down perspectives and RTS style gameplay. Or maybe it's the fact that the tiny little cutsey sprites made me giggle with glee every time they shot at each other. There's something about it. The repeated tiles, and map designs work, and it really is quite pretty for a master system game. There is a bit of a frame rate issue at points, but hey, it can't be perfect.

Even the audio is pretty damn superior compared to some other sega games out there. The soundtrack is epic, and I really wish they incorporated more music into the actual gameplay rather than leaving it only in the mission complete areas or other screens. The silence kind of gets to me. Like Warcraft, when you play those missions you've got that epic soundtrack blasting in the background. Here, all you hear is gunfire and explosions. Ah well..

My only qualm with this game, is the controls. However, I have to say, they accomplished it to the best of their ability considering they had the genesis / master system controls to work with. It's never easy to mimic a mouse and keyboard on a control pad.

Still, this game deserves to be played. So get on it.

Final Score (out of 5) :

Until Next time - Keep on Gaming!



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